Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Cristobal de MORALES
Missa Si bona suscepimus

Si bona suscepimus
Andreas Christi famulus
The Tallis Scholars
Directed by Peter Phillips
Gimell CDGIM 033 [56.01]

Welcome back Gimell! After selling the label to Philips in a move to give it better visibility and to secure improved world-wide distribution, label founders Steve Smith (Producer) and Peter Phillips (Director of the Tallis Scholars) discovered that, if anything, their CDs were losing profile and becoming hidden amongst a plethora of Bocelli albums and 'Great Pianists' compilations. Where once Gimell had clearly led the way amongst the companies recording renaissance polyphony, there now tended to be a curious lack of activity, perhaps due to Philips's less than enthusiastic marketing which, ironically, had once been a particular strength of the independent Gimell.

So it was very good news to hear that the partners had regained control of Gimell and that 'normal service' would 'be resumed as soon as possible'. This new recording of Morales's fine mass Si bona suscepimus also happens to be the best Tallis Scholars release since their much admired and feted Clemens non Papa Missa Pastores quidnam vidistis.

The Morales mass has at its core a musical parody of Verdelot's Si bona suscepimus of 1526. In his beautifully written booklet notes, Peter Phillips describes Verdelot's motet as a 'sparse setting' which, perhaps, is true when compared with Morales treatment. But in its own right, this is a wonderfully moving seven minute outpouring which from the initial doubt expressed (Job 2:10) 'If we have received blessings from the hand of the Lord, why then should we not endure misfortune?' there is a clear path towards a passionate affirmation 'blessed be the name of the Lord', expressed in ever joyous polyphony.

In the Morales mass itself, Peter Phillips, as we have come to expect from him, keeps the music moving forward and the sense of line and purpose is always at the forefront. The ecstatic Gloria and the tender Agnus Dei are amongst the finest settings from the pen of Morales. It is, however, the central Credo which marks this mass out as one of the key religious works of the sixteenth century. At almost thirteen minutes, this powerful and sustained journey towards an exultant Amen should be heard by all lovers of an extraordinary period in the history of church music.

Finally there is a work from the now increasingly admired court composer to the Emperor Charles V, Thomas Crecquillon. With admirable honesty Peter Phillips admits in his booklet notes that the superb Pater peccavi included on the Clemens non Papa CD and assumed to be one of his compositions has now to be attributed to Crecquillon.

Andreas Christi famulus is, however, unquestionably by Crecquillon and demonstrates again what a fine composer he was. As Phillips says, 'a reappraisal of Crecquillon is obviously called for'. Indeed, the motet is in danger of stealing the show on this wonderful CD. But perhaps this is not so surprising when one considers who were present in the original audience. The Order of the Golden Fleece (patron saint St. Andrew or 'Andreas') met in Utrecht in 1546 and this motet was written specifically for the occasion. Hopefully Francis 1 of France, Henry VIII of England and Charles V of Spain enjoyed the premiere - we shall never know. But their presence certainly brought out the best in Thomas Crecquillon.

Superb singing, fine sound, superb packaging.

Welcome back Gimell!


Simon Foster



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